Thursday, January 16, 2014

Permission to Fail

It is still early in the year yet, and folks are still kind of riled up about resolutions, and achieving things, and highfalutin’ aspirations about making themselves better people and whatnot. In that spirit (and I by no means seek to denigrate such folk, as I can sort of count myself among them), I present to you “Fail Fast, Fail Often,” a recent article on the Daily Beast. (Well, actually, not so much an article as it is an excerpt of the book by the same name.)

The premise of this piece is that we too often get bogged down in details instead of taking action. The authors exhort us to do things badly, as fast as we can, because if we increase the quantity of our output we will stop worrying about the quality of the output – and yet, and YET! Somehow mysteriously letting go of worrying about the little details often results in higher quality output. At least that’s how I’m interpreting it.

There is something to be said for this, at least for me, because I am one of those “getting bogged down” people, with the result that I can too easily talk myself out of doing something because it will require Too. Much. I convince myself that I don’t know Enough to do said thing, so I get bogged down in learning more about it, and putting off doing something while I try to backfill what I think I need to know. And then after I have made two or three steps and realize the great enormity of all there is yet to learn, it becomes a monumental task and I get caught up in something else and never get back to it.

What? What? Is that really the best way to go about things? Clearly not.

Where I get bogged down is in expending time and energy on an idea that isn’t going to work. They key is to determine if the idea is workable. It is not always clear or obvious. But I like the idea of kind of throwing myself into it quickly, and seeing if it’s all that and a bag of chips, as I imagined it to be, or whether it’s simply a no go. And then moving on to the next new shiny thing.

So again, for 2014 it’s all about that one little word for me:  STRETCH. Get out of the comfort zone. Do things a little differently. Or maybe a lot differently. As the authors say,

You can’t know what something is like, how you will feel about it, or what will result from it until you actually are doing it.

It’s pretty simple actually. Let’s get stretchin’!


Bridget said...

Love this!

And this: When Ed Catmull, the cofounder and president of Pixar, describes Pixar’s creative work, he says it involves a process of going from “suck” to “non-suck.”

You made my Monday, Lisa.

Lisa Blah Blah said...

I am glad I made your Monday, but I am sad it took me until Friday to respond to your lovely comment! Ugh, having lots of tech issues this week.

YES. From "suck" to "non-suck." I am all for that. Other advice (from?? source escapes me, and I'm paraphrasing): basically you need to just vomit everything out onto the page and then sort through it.

Perhaps the suck/non-suck phrasing is a bit better.